Guest post by Valerie McDougall and Jayne Jennings (read more about Valerie and Jayne at the end of this post)
Have you ever exaggerated how big your business really is to potential clients or suppliers? You wouldn’t be alone if you said Yes – many of us do.
Isn’t it ironic that small and micro businesses need to appear as substantial as possible—while big companies need to maintain the personal touch?
It reminds us of the girls born with curly hair always wanting straight hair!
But it really is important for small and micro businesses to get the XL-look. We’ve divided the way you can approach this into two broad categories:
- The front of house side, and
- The output side
The ‘front of house’ tackles image and communication. It’s having your website, your business cards and other first impressions, your phone and email contacts all aligned and looking professional. It’s about getting you out there!
The output side is your way of ramping up your capacity to tackle projects you need to grow your business. And to simplify further, we’re tackling this from the ‘virtual’ world point of view—but of course, the same principles apply anywhere.
1. Virtual Assistance
Today’s world offers an endless array of services and products that you can obtain online. Just a click away, you can get help from software engineers, writers, assistants, graphics people, project managers—you name it.
2. Virtual Partnering
More than ever, we’re finding our own successes come from working with other small businesses for mutual benefit. These have been very project-based, mini joint ventures. They have brought us clients and opportunities.
Both these output avenues offer needed flexibility—the same skills or funds aren’t always available so as-needed workers help you work within your cash flow.
Virtual partnering can be a tricky area because of many potential pitfalls.But to make it work, here are 5 tips we’ve found to be useful.
- Be clear from the outset the scope of the project and individual responsibilities and set it down in writing.
- Things have a habit of changing! So as you progress, don’t expect that the other person knows what it in your mind; update on your thinking and note it in writing.
- Have very clear and specific details about the financials—and unexpected expenses.
- Before you even start, take time to check if your outlooks align—things like the standard of your output, response rate, deadline mindset.
- Have an end-time to the venture and know the options for everyone when it ends. Even if you re-start it at that time, you’ll save a lot of unnecessary stress! In this ‘pre-nup’ make sure you have all the options for buying each other out listed, or how you’ll resolve a dispute should one arise.
In other words, deal with all potential pitfalls while you’re starting and you’ll all succeed.
Many small and micro businesses we’ve spoken with who really like the idea of joining forces for special projects but don’t know where to find others. So we’ve started a special website -www.BusinessProjectMatchmaker.com – to help with business project matchmaking, where you can list what you need in the way of skills—or you can offer your skills to others.
About the Authors
Valerie McDougall and Jayne Jennings are Work Life Balance Champions. After speaking with women entrepreneurs around the world they set up several resource sites to support working women with work life balance : www.GuiltFreeBusinessMothers.com, and sister site www.BusinessProjectMatchmaker.com to help women find the right partner for business success.
I think you hit the nail on the head regarding scope with virtual partnering. I do a ton of networking and partnering on small projects using Skype and email (without ever meeting in person) and delineating and agreeing on scope at the outset is imperative. It benefits both parties and opens the door for honest discussion about scope creep later.